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caligirl: 16 years on SSRI's.....6 months off


caligirl

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I don't know what we would do without the Internet, I was looking for guidance and support and stumbled across this website.  First let me say that I have been on and off SSRI's for 16 years....I had never suffered depression and only developed anxiety a few years ago but with education and forums such as this, I wonder if it wasn't withdrawal from the cocktail of SSRI's my dr. was trying at the time.

 

Whatever it may be, I am 6 months off of Cymbalta and have good days and bad....the bad days feel endless.   Here is a little history of how my life with medication began....I suffered a very traumatic childhood which I repressed for decades...when I finally confronted things I was already on medication which started for symptoms of PMS.  At the time I believe it was Serafem back in the early 2000's, then I was switched to Lexapro as I would have bouts of anger that the dr. felt this would help. 

 

I took Lexapro for several years until I wanted off because it killed my emotions and my sex drive.  I was off for a few months and just felt like I needed to go back on something.  This began the next 10 + years of being on SSRI's including Cymbalta for the last few years and a mixture of (Lexapro again; wellbutrin and God knows what else at one point which didn't work so back to the Cymbalta he sent me) 

 

A few years ago I was going through a difficult divorce and began to have panic issues.  I had had one or two in the past and now looking back, think they were from repressed emotions pertaining to my childhood.  The dr. decided to give me benzos, which I'd never taken.  When Xanax didn't work he put me on Ativan.  I took Ativan sporadically for about 2 weeks and couldn't figure out why the life was sucked out of me. 

 

I could barely leave my house, I forced myself to go to work but I was in the deepest depression imaginable and didn't know what to do.  I started doing my research and realized that benzos could spark depression.  I stopped taking them immediately and with time I started to feel better again.  I was still on Cymbalta at the time but eventually wanted to be free from these meds.  I have never done drugs in my life and had no idea the impact these prescription meds would have on my life and my mind.

 

I decided to taper off of Cymbalta late last year...trauma being healed (slowly); divorce behind me; new happy and healthy relationship....it was time.  At first I felt ok then I had another traumatic event happen in January which spiraled me into depression again.  I have been struggling for the last 5 months...but now some days are ok and some not so ok. 

 

I am a strong woman and know that I have gotten this far (6 months off!) and will continue.  I drink lots of water, exercise a few times a week, make sure I spend time outdoors enjoying the sunshine, my puppies; my love and my friends.  It's still a struggle but seeing the posts about the windows and waves now makes sense.  I have new hope that my body is in fact healing itself and all of this is part of the process, albeit a scary one. 

 

I only wish we as a society were more educated about the long term effects these medications will have on us not only while on them but if we make the brave decision to go off of them.  When we go on them we are thrilled to be able to get them from our primary dr.  The ease of getting the prescriptions is comforting, however, I really think there needs to be tighten regulations on who can prescribe these meds.  Someone well versed and educated on the effects and dangers....

 

 

Edited by KarenB
added white space

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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  • scallywag changed the title to caligirl: 16 years on SSRI's.....6 months off
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hello Caligirl,

 

You might find it reassuring to read about neuro-plasticity and brain restoration.  It gave me a lot of hope when I first came here.  How Psychiatric Drugs Remodel Your Brain   What is Withdrawal Syndrome?  Neuro-plasticity and hope and more neuro plasticity and limbic retraining

 

Many people find Fish oil and Magnesium useful during withdrawal.   What symptoms are you currently experiencing?   

Non-Drug Techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

 

Please put your recent withdrawal history in your signature – all drugs/dates/dosages etc. so we can see your situation easily whenever you post, and help you more accurately.  Thanks.

 

For some people - most unfairly - w/d does take longer to end.  There are other members here who are also waiting a long time.  Are there supportive people in your life, or things that you are doing to get yourself through this difficult time? 

 

Have a read of those and then you can come back to this thread to discuss things further.  This can be your journal to record your tapering and healing progress, and to ask questions. With time and good care, you will be able to one day be off this drug. 

 

Melt into your own life

 

Welcome to SA,

Karen

 

Edited by KarenB
added white space cause it keeps disappearing!

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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I'm sorry, I'm still learning how to navigate this website...but I was on 30 mg for a few years, but I had been bumped up to as much as 120 at one point but it was too strong for me so I bumped down to 90 and then 60 and eventually 30, I was on 30 for a while. I should also note that I found out after being off of this medication that I went through early changes of menopause (in late 40's) and am no longer producing estrogen.  So that's a whole other issue that I am now dealing with as the side effects of your body can sometimes mirror that of some of the withdrawal symptoms...boy this is crazy!

 

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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  • Moderator Emeritus

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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Yes, all very helpful information.... my ob/gyn just put me on a low dose estrogen patch...so far I'm tolerating it pretty well and it has the least amount of side effects.  I was concerned with the WD but hopefully 6 months in, I'm on the downside of all of this....I continue to exercise, drink plenty of fluids and eat a pretty healthy diet.  I also started taking Omega-3/fish oil again along with my multi-vitamin.  Not much else I can do until my body recharges and resets itself.  I feel as though there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel, every time I get an odd brain zap or body jerk I think, this is my brain and body resetting itself after being on these numbing meds for so so long.  I can't stop thinking about why I went on them in the first place, never having any type of depression but to help with mood swings associated with PMS.  If I had only known then what I know now, I would have picked up a bottle of Pamprin and dealt with it.....

 

Strange thing recently though, my anxiety has kicked in full force and I started having jerks and panic episodes while driving over bridges....has anyone else encountered this?

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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When did you start your multi-vitamin?  If it was after you began w/d, then the B-vitamins in it may be activating and causing you extra anxiety. 

 

On the other hand, anxiety is a very common w/d symptom.  There are a lot of ideas for tools to deal with this in the Non-Drug Techniques thread I gave you above.  It'd be worth choosing some to start working with. 

2010  Fluoxetine 20mg.  2011  Escitalopram 20mg.  2013 Tapered badly and destabilised CNS.  Effexor 150mg. 

2015 Begin using info at SurvivingAntidepressants.  Cut 10% - bad w/d 2 months, held 1 month. 

Micro-tapering: four weekly 0.4% cuts, hold 4 weeks (struggling with symptoms).

8 month hold.

2017 Micro-tapering: four weekly 1% cuts, hold 4 weeks (symptoms almost non-existent).

2020 Still micro-tapering. Just over 2/3 of the way off effexor. Minimal symptoms, - and sleeping well.
Supplements: Fish oil, vitamin C, iron, oat-straw tea, nettle tea.

My story of healing:ContinuedHealing

***I am not a doctor; please do your own research and be able to take responsibility for decisions you make.*** 

           'The possibility of renewal exists so long as life exists.'  Dr Gabor Mate.

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Hi KarenB...thanks so much for responding, I have taken a multi-vitamin for many many years but switched brands over the last year or so, I was wondering if that was part of it.  I know it's the WD primarily but geez what a rollercoaster this has all been.  I am 6 months and a week off of Cymbalta and I know I need to keep my focus, which is NOT being on this stuff!!!  Some days are easier than others but some days are so incredibly hard, my moods are all over the place and I know that the hormone issue is a problem too - just feel like so much is going on at the same time.  Part of me thinks I should put the estrogen/hormone issue on the backburner for a while and focus on the WD solely as both are hitting each other head to head.

 

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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Cali. What estrogen patch are you on and what dose? How long have you been on them?  Hormonal problems coinciding with withdrawal can be a tricky road to navigate. I wouldn't think it's the vitamin causing problems at this stage however if it's full of B's it could be a problem as your system is ultra - sensitive.It may be best to stop it for now just until your system settles. Many find B vitamins far too stimulating in withdrawal.We usually advise staying away from them but recommend magnesium and fish oil.

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker

King of supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil 

Many SSRI's and SSNRI's over 20 years. Zoloft for 7 years followed by Effexor, Lexapro, Prozac, Cymbalta, Celexa, Pristiq, Valdoxan, Mianserin and more - on and off. No tapering. Cold turkey off Valdoxan - end of May 2014

 

                                                  Psych Drug - free since May 2014
.
         

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Hi AliG....I just started this past Saturday (so only 4 days)....pretty sure it's a low dose Estradial patch (have to double check) but I'm assuming it will take a bit for my body to regulate being on this.  I must have depleted the estrogen while on the Cymbalta and now that I'm off of that my body is displaying the symptoms.  I have a really good fish oil (omega-3) and magnesium, I stopped taking both a few weeks back but I started back on them but will nix the vitamin for now. 

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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Cali. I had similar issues and it can often tend to make it a little more complicated. However, if you have a good hormone doctor it can make things so much easier.

 

Neuro emotions whilst in WD is hard but if you add in the hormones as well and it can be a battlefield.One step at a time and you will get through this. 

Many SSRI's and SSNRI's over 20 years. Zoloft for 7 years followed by Effexor, Lexapro, Prozac, Cymbalta, Celexa, Pristiq, Valdoxan, Mianserin and more - on and off. No tapering. Cold turkey off Valdoxan - end of May 2014

 

                                                  Psych Drug - free since May 2014
.
         

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Hi Caligirl,

I'm happy you found SA, but so sorry you had to. It sounds like you are going through a very hard time, but handling it with amazing grace and fortitude. You obviously have what it takes to make it through this difficult process.

 

As a fellow traveler on this winding road, I wanted to welcome you and let you know you are far from alone. I also wanted to chime in on the magnesium. I take it every day, and on the rare occasion that I've missed it, my anxiety has shot through the roof.  So you may find it helpful. It doesn't take it away entirely,  but it certainly makes it more tolerable. 

 

Peace, love and healing.

PatriciaVP@AbleWriterSays My Intro

 

Zoloft 150-200 mg- on and off between 1998 and 2004.

 

Lexapro 40 mg - 2004-2013 30 mg 2013 - August 2015 20 mg August 2015- September 2015 15 mg September 2015 - October 2015 10 mg October 2015 -Nov. 1 2015. Nov. 2015 increased dose to 12.5 mg to stabilize. Dec. 28 2015 11.25 mg March 29, 2016 10 mg. August 1, 2016 9 mg. October 23, 2016 8.1 mg. Nov. 29, 2016 7.5 mg. Feb. 25, 2017 7 mg. April 9, 2017 6.5 mg. June 2017 6 mg. Aug. 2018 5.75 mg March 2019 5.5 mg Apr. 2019 5.25 mg. June 2019 5 mg Sept. 2019 4.75 mg Nov. 2019 4.5 mg Dec. 2019  4.25 April 7 2020 4mg 

 

Depakote 1000 mg 2008-2013  750 2013-Dec 2015 500 mg Dec 2015 to Feb 2, 2016. Sopped completely Feb 2 2016.

 

Adderall 40mg 2004-Feb 29, 2016. Feb 29,2016 - reduced Adderall to 20 mg based on pdoc's recommendations. March 29, 2016 - Reduced Adderall to 15 mg. April 30 reduced Adderall to 10 mgs. May 28, 2016 reduced Adderall to 5 mgs.June 8, 2016 stopped taking Adderall due to extreme agitation.

 

Amphetamine 20mg 2008 - 1/16. 1/16 - Stopped Amphetamine completely because pdoc did not renew script.

WWW.PSYCHFREE.NET 

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Thank you PatriciaVP - it certainly helps to have the support and encouragement from others who are unfortunately dealing with or have dealt with the same things I am.  I am definitely going to stick with the fish oil and even ordered a good sockeye salmon full of omega-3 along with the magnesium citrate....hopefully this with the exercise and lots of fluids will continue to make my good windows last a bit longer.  I plan to never go on any of the SSRI's ever again, to think of the damage that was done to my brain and nervous system being on these meds is just mind boggling.  Six months in, I know I can do it!

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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Another thing I will note about these meds is, I was put on them for moodiness and irritability associated with PMS in my 30's....looking back now, I still struggle with this but not because of PMS but because I had a traumatic childhood and have been dealing with the effects of the trauma and what my body's response is to stress.  I am aware of this now at this point in my life and know that exercise and journaling help and you can't mask that with medication.  All that did was somewhat numb my emotions for 15+ years, now it's all coming out of me....

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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Hi, Caligirl

Thank you so much for sharing your history and reminding me again about why I want to keep working to get off antidepressants.  Almost every word of your description of how these meds let us mask real emotion resonated with me.  I'm coming off a 17 year affair with Effexor and hearing the honest truth about how you've fared is really encouraging.  I've been working hard on developing better coping mechanisms as I've aged (56,f) but I've also given in to becoming a hermit, almost.  I remember being more alive than this and I want that back.

 

 

Backtoreality here. I take 120mgs. of Effexor XR. Plan: Week 1: 50mgs. in the morning and 50mgs. at night. Week 2: 50 mgs. morning and 25mgs. at night. Week 3: 25mgs. A.M. and 25mgs.P.M. Week 4: 25mgs to 17.5.

I plan to augment with grains from the capsules as needed and slow down when needed. Time is no object; as long as it takes.

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backtoreality - thank you so much, to know I am helping someone else when I truly came on here for my own inspiration is a wonderful feeling.  I made the decision that I no longer wanted on these meds and it's been a bumpy road so far but I feel like I'm slowly trucking along to hopefully getting back to myself.  Before taking this stuff, I was happy, bubbly at times, I always liked doing things and being around people.  I have been somewhat numb for years and I never realized that the anger and frustration I felt initially were really suppressed emotions from abuse as a child along with no support from my parents, the very people who abused me.  Growing up and as a teenager, I felt alone and worthless, unloveable.  Funny thing is, to look at me, everyone thinks I have such a wonderful life, I'm 5'10, pretty, blonde, in shape and was asked to model so many times when I was younger but I lacked the self-confidence to do anything.   I have beaten myself up for finally confronting my parents over 10 years ago, only to have them cut me off for doing so.  I have paid such a price and the medication was only numbing all of that. 

 

I learned to suppress my emotions at a very early age and hit everything until I got into my mid-30's.  When I started to "feel" is when I started taking medication, all the while I should have been allowing myself to feel, I was repressing things yet again.  The good news is, I am much more educated on all of this now and so are you.  You can do it, trust me, you can!  Take it one day at a time, be really kind to yourself.  Exercise, drink plenty of fluids, write in a journal, take the supplements everyone universally recommends to help you through it.  You can't sit in and be a hermit, that's the worst thing.  Go for a walk, call a friend and meet for coffee.  Anything to "change the scenery" so to speak....if you have a dog, take the pup for a walk.  Sit outside and read a good book.  Just be kind to yourself.....

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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Update on the estrogen situation - I was feeling really ill and just not myself last Friday so I called my dr. and removed the patch.  On top of this, I ended up with a fever blister (which has only happened 2 or 3 times in my life) as well as a yeast infection - my body was thrown so out of whack from the estrogen patch that I ripped it off.  My stomach was upset as well and have had major gastro problems ever since. 

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't know what I would do without the ability to look to this site for guidance and support....I have been really really struggling the last few weeks.  I believe my dr. putting me on the estrogen patch made me so sick and sent me back into full blown withdrawal.  I removed the patch a week after using and have had horrific anxiety; sweating off and on and stomach issues since then.  Today I had less of the Monday morning (work week starting) anxiety so I see that as a glimmer of hope that I seem to be getting a little tiny bit better but boy has this thrown me for a loop.  I am 7 months off of Cymbalta as of 7/12/17 and know that after reading some of the posts, I have regained my faith that I am on the road to being back to myself.  I feel some days like I can't do anything but then I get a little glimmer of hope and remember that my body is renewing and recharging itself with every day I struggle.   I never ever want to be on any of these meds ever again.

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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Congratulations on freeing yourself from the cymbalta!  Hang in there. Hope your glimmers become large rays of sunshine soon. 

200 Zoloft; 10 mg Zyprexa; 4 mg valium as of May 2021;  Valium taper: July 16: 3.5 valium; July 30: 3 mg (paused valium taper); Aug. 23: 2.5 mg
Zyprexa: July 26: 8.75 mg; Aug. 9: 7.5 mg; Aug. 30: 7.1 mg

-------
Dec 1, 2016. 10 mg zyprexa for 1.5 month. Started taper mid-Jan. 2017. Cut 1.25 mg every 2 weeks; smaller cuts 2.5 mg down. Stopped at .6 mg. May 7, 2017: zyprexa free. 
Zoloft: Dec1, 2016, 200 mg. Started taper: Jun12, 2017: 197.5 mg; Jun19,:195 mg; July 2:185mg; July 9,:180 mg; July16,: 175; July 23: 170; July 30: 165; Aug6: 160; Aug13: 155; Aug. 20: 150; Aug.27: 146 mg; Sept3: 145 mg; Sept10:143 mg; Sept17:140 mg....Nov5: 122 mg...Dec3:112.5 mg; Jan14, 2018: 95 mg...Jan28: 90 mg; Feb21:80 mg; Mar11: 75 mg; May2:70 mg; May15: 68 mg; May28: 65 mg; Jun9: 62 mg;Jun25: 60 mg:July22: 55 mg; Aug25: 45 mg. Aug28: 50 mg...Oct 28: 38 mg; Dec.4: 30 mg; Jan8,2019: 25mg; Feb6: 23.5 mg; Apr1:17.5mg; May1:1 mg; May 5: 18;  May 18:15mg; June 16:12.5mg; Sept 10:11 mg; Sept.16:10 mg; Oct. 1: 9mg; Nov. 27: 8mg; Dec.5: 7mg; Jan.1,2020, 6 mg; Feb1: 5 mg; May 1: 2.5 mg; Jn 1: 2 mg; Jy 1: 1.5 mg

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Thank you Madeleine - it's been a rough road with a few smooth patches...hopefully the smooth patches will become more frequent!!!  Looking back I definitely tapered too fast so now that I am more educated on ssri withdrawal I understand the rough road.....

Serafem; Lexapro; Cymbalta; then trial bouts of Wellbutrin and Buspar; back to Cymbalta...off for 6 months and counting!

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